An Ellicott City, Md., man died Sunday at a Virginia hospital after participating in the Tough Mudder endurance series in Berkeley County on Saturday, police said.
Avishek Sengupta, 28, was pronounced dead at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., Berkeley County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Ted Snyder said Monday.
Sengupta’s death was ruled accidental by the Virginia medical examiner’s office in Manassas, Va., which said Monday afternoon that drowning was the cause of death.
Sengupta had to be removed from a fairly deep pool at the “Walk the Plank” aquatic obstacle where it appears he was submerged for too long, according to Snyder.
Sengupta was treated by staff on site and responding medics and was revived at some point before he died Sunday, Snyder said.
The victim’s sister notified Snyder of her brother’s death about 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
“He was an active individual and kept himself in good shape,” Snyder said.
Sengupta was with a group of about six friends who joined thousands of others for the two-day event over the weekend at the Peacemaker National Training Center near the small community of Glengary.
“As organizers, we take our responsibility to provide a safe event to our participants very seriously,” Will Dean, chief executive officer of Tough Mudder, said in a news release.
“Tough Mudder is devastated by this tragic accident,” he said.
Sengupta was the first person to die in Tough Mudder since the first event was held in 2010, according to company spokeswoman Ashley Pinakiewicz.
About 750,000 people have participated in more than 50 events since then, according to Tough Mudder.
City Hospital in Martinsburg — where Sengupta was first taken — received 20 patients from Tough Mudder, West Virginia University Hospitals-East said in a statement Monday.
Two of the 14 patients taken to the hospital’s emergency department Saturday were treated for heart attacks and two others were “potential” drownings, a 40-year-old woman and Sengupta, who Snyder said was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital later in the afternoon.
One of the patients who had a heart attack was treated at City Hospital, while the other was transferred to another facility, according to the hospital’s statement.
The woman was monitored in the emergency department and later released, according to the hospital.
The other 10 patients were treated for a variety of injuries, including orthopedic, hypothermia and head injuries, and were released, according to the hospital.
“At one point on Saturday afternoon, trauma patients were being diverted to other area hospitals because of the volume of patients being seen in City Hospital’s ED as a result of the Tough Mudder event,” the hospital said.
On Sunday, a 29-year-old male was admitted for observation after being shocked and was in good condition Monday afternoon at the hospital, according to the hospital. The remaining five patients seen Sunday were treated for a variety of injuries and released, according to the hospital.
Tough Mudder said Monday that safety is the organization’s top priority and that obstacles are tested and thoroughly inspected prior to each event in conjunction with local authorities and independent consultants.
The company also said it had more than 75 advanced life support, emergency medical technician, paramedics, water rescue technicians and emergency personnel on site for the event.
The Tough Mudder course was built on about 500 acres of the 2,300 acres at Peacemaker National Training Center, a firearms training complex that was leased by Tough Mudder for its Mid-Atlantic regional event.
Walk the Plank was among 22 obstacles that had its own identity and names such as Mud Mile No. 1, Trench Warfare, Berlin Walls, Funky Monkey and, at the finish line, Electroshock Therapy.
To clear the Walk the Plank obstacle, participants climbed to the top of a platform, then plunged about 13 feet into the pool and swam to get out of it, Snyder said. The sheriff’s office said it examined the obstacle and surrounding site as part of the investigation.
Tough Mudder said Monday it will continue to cooperate in any capacity to the fullest extent possible with the sheriff’s office investigation.
“Tough Mudder extends its deepest sympathies to his family and friends for their loss,” the company said in the news release.
“We thank the wider Tough Mudder community for its concern for the participant and his loved ones at this difficult time.”
Peacemaker National Training Center President Cole McCulloch said he went to the hospital when Sengupta was transported.
“My heart goes out to his family,” McCulloch said when told of Sengupta’s death.
McCulloch said they are now reviewing the circumstances surrounding the man’s death and have “a stern eye” on the obstacle involved.
While there is room for improvement, McCulloch said the event went “very well” overall.
“It’s what I call version 1.0.”
McCulloch said he was particularly pleased to see the determination and camaraderie on display among participants in an event that supports wounded veterans.
“I’m very much for it,” McCulloch said.
Tough Mudder has said more than $5 million has been raised for the Wounded Warrior Project, which is a charity that supports veterans and service members who incurred injury on or after Sept. 11, 2001.
McCulloch signed a three-year contract to host Tough Mudder, but has an opt-out clause in the agreement.
The series is slated to return to the firearms training complex in October.